By Adrienne Goodson
Today started out great. A nice breakfast and great company, but this was different. I’m different. I’m on the other side of basketball now. Running into people like Ruthie Bolton, Kym Hampton, and Sonja Henning was powerful. They’re all doing well after retiring from the WNBA, and as we pass out cards… Oh Damn! I missed the shuttle to the gym. But Andrew the transportation coordinator came to the rescue. Its nice to have been a player cause I still get the perks. Well, its just nice to be remembered.
So, I’m on this shuttle all by my lonesome and enjoying the ride. We get to the Boys and Girls Club where I now have to flip mode on ’em. It was cool to say Adrienne Goodson with Slam magazine. It gave me that James Bond kinda feeling when I presented myself. No, for real! This is hot. Seriously though, when I got to the door they assumed that I was still playing, so I ended up in the green room. So nice, the place where all the food and players are. How easy is this?
Sitting and talking to all of the east in one big interview I got Tameka, Deanna, Cheryl, Bill, and Rick Mahorn. They were all relaxed and confident. I guess they should be, having the crowd behind them every step of the way. The west coast was a lot more serious. No one was allowed in the green room but players and coaches. I think they want the crown back. When I asked Taj McWilliams-Franklin (Los Angeles Sparks) what the difference is between the east and west all-star teams she said, “The east are more laid back this year. Last year when I was on the east (2-9) we were more serious and had a chip on our shoulders from losing for so many years. The west are a more silly and are about having fun but when the ball goes up it’s all business.
The practice was open to the public and also included a Nike court dedication. They also gave a pair of shoes to all the children in the house. The kids were crazy for this, and at that moment I was so proud to have been a part of the WNBA. They really do have good community programs in place. The media was hectic but the players all do so well. You have to be able to adapt quickly to the schedule as an all-star because its very time consuming. Even the practice is on a tight schedule, something like one hour a piece.
Crowd participation is always certain at a WNBA event and there was a lot of that. T-shirts and mini balls were being thrown around randomly. They love that more than anything and its good promotion for the league. I got a few things that were cool, especially since I needed some WNBA Cares apparel. The staff for the WNBA was on point as usual but a lot of those people were dead tired. I mean, they really do try to accommodate everyone’s needs. One whole week of community events from basketball to politics is a whole bunch. Hats off to the crew who made it happen.
Once the players took the floor for the media, I got to speak with quite a few people and was interviewed as well. There were old faces and a few new players that I didn’t know. My favorite interview was with Phoenix Mercury forward Penny Taylor who said, “ It’s important for the WNBA to expose women athletes to the world because the younger generation of females need to have someone to look up to, someone to admire. Growing up in Australia I admired Michael Jordan and other NBA players but when the WNBA came around I was able to watch Michelle Timms and Sandy Brondello. That was a big moment in my life. The moment when I realized that I could actually get where they were. Little girls need that.” Those Aussie divas can play some ball and the league will surely open up the door for many more just like ’em.
After about three hours of interviews, but most of all entertainment, I was heading back to the hotel. This time Bill Laimbeer and the crew let me bum a ride. Rick Mahorn thinks he’s a comedian and is a pretty funny guy. They kept getting on me for talking to the bus driver who thought he was behind the wheel of a car. He took us on a detour off of the highway. We were all looking at him like, dude do you know you’re trying to drive this bus up a street that is meant for smaller vehicles? I guess that 10 inch pinky nail he was sporting helped him steer the bus. Things were good with that east all-star team. I guess they have a feeling or something.
Another day on the j-o-b but this time in the Verizon Center. The building was so cold it was fit for polar bears only. I picked a bad day to wear a thin shirt but I liked the press area. They feed you well at the WNBA games. I thoroughly enjoyed the sandwiches and all the fixings as well as the company. Some people are mad cool, but there are some journalists who take their job way too serious. I find it easier to lay back than attack. Everybody loves Slam magazine so it’s an easy in. The advantage is definitely there.
There was the Dribble, Dish and Assist as well as the Three point shootout contest. Becky Hammon beat out Seimone Augustus to win the dribble, dish, and assist challenge but Laurie Koehn got her shine on at home in Washington when she put on a shooting exhibition for the DC fans. She matched an NBA record set by Craig Hodges in “86” and dethroned Dawn Staley, the 2006 three point champion. Laurie knocked out 25 treys in a single round. Penny Taylor was hot like fire too. I gotta give her some props on the real but it was Laurie’s night. When I asked D Staley how many treys she hit last year she said, “One more than the contender” and bust out laughing.
I am just as much of a fan as anybody in this arena. The game was a sold out crowd. They literally turned people away. It was sad that some people couldn’t get in to watch the game, but it’s nice to see that we are truly on solid ground with this league.
The game was great. The west jumped out on ’em real hungry-like and shocked the east into a time out. Threes were raining from everywhere. Diana Taurasi, Lauren Jackson, Tina Thompson, and even Taj got herself one. It was like one right after the other. A movie with one scene playing over and over again. Bill quickly made substitutions, which was a statement to a lot of the players. He wanted to win and if you showed out he was gonna yank ya. Secure the lead then have fun. After the subs, the east came roaring back. A few treys by Katie Douglas and some real nice play by Delisha Milton made the game more respectable but a quite storm was brewing in someone else. Cheryl Ford was truly the quiet storm. She played her way into a double-double (16 pts and 13 rebs), walked off with MVP status, and a another ring to add to her collection.
There were so many great moments in that arena. Tina Thompson’s shooting, Becky Hammon’s performance down the stretch, Diana Taurasi starting out simply on fire, Cappie Poindexter running the ball, Yolanda Griffith still making big plays, Deanna Nolan and Alana Beard slicing through the defense, and Anna DeForge hitting the backbreaking shot of the game. The east won 103-99. My goodness I love this game because I can sit back and enjoy it like the fan that I am.
We topped it off up stairs in the Presidential Suite with finger foods and bottomless drinks. Of course, the kids were getting autographs and everyone mingled like we do it on our side. Faces of old and faces of new, but all with a common purpose and that’s to keep it going. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. The WNBA All-Star weekend in DC was fan-tastic. Stay tuned……….